Former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane pleads guilty to manslaughter in the death of George Floyd | New
The former Minneapolis police officer who restrained George Floyd’s legs during his fatal restraint pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter on Wednesday as part of a plea deal, attorneys said.
Thomas Lane, 39, was one of three former officers to face charges of accessory to second-degree manslaughter and accessory to second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death in May 2020.
In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the murder charge, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office said. State and defense attorneys jointly recommended to the court a 36-month sentence, according to his office.
“I’m glad Thomas Lane has accepted responsibility for his role in Floyd’s death,” Ellison said. “His acknowledgment that he did something wrong is an important step towards healing the wounds of the Floyd family, our community and the nation. While accountability is not justice, this is an important moment in this case and a necessary resolution in our continued journey towards justice.”
Defense attorney Earl Gray said Lane agreed to plead guilty because he faced a mandatory 12-year sentence if convicted of the murder charge.
“My client didn’t want to risk losing the murder case, so he decided to plead guilty to manslaughter with a 3 year sentence, be released in 2 years, and the murder case closed” , said Gray. “The sentence will be concurrent with his federal sentence and he will serve his sentence in a federal facility. He has a newborn baby and did not want to risk not being part of the child’s life.”
Lane is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 21 on the state charge, according to the court.
He was among three former officers already convicted in federal court in February of violating Floyd’s civil rights. No sentencing date has been set in this case.
In a statement, Floyd family attorneys Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci and Jeff Storms welcomed the guilty plea, but said there was still more work to be done.
“Today’s guilty plea by former officer Thomas Lane takes the Floyd family another step towards closure on the horrific and historic murder of George Floyd,” they said. “While today is a step in the right direction, one need only look to the recent and tragic murder of Amir Locke to realize that the city of Minneapolis has a long way to go to regain the trust of its citizens. .”
In early February, a Minneapolis police officer fatally shot Locke, a 22-year-old black man, seconds after entering his apartment after Locke got off a couch with a handgun and lifted it towards an officer. , prosecutors said. The officer and other members of the Minneapolis SWAT team were there to serve a warrant in a homicide investigation.
Ellison and Hennepin County District Attorney Michael Freeman declined last month to press charges against any officers involved in the shooting.
What Lane did during Floyd’s arrest
Former officers Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng faced state and federal charges for their actions — or lack thereof — as fellow officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the neck and back of Floyd, who was handcuffed and lying face down for more than nine minutes.
During the arrest, Lane held down Floyd’s legs, Kueng held down Floyd’s torso, and Thao stood nearby and held off a crowd of upset bystanders. Heartbreaking video taken by a bystander showed Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, desperately begging them to let him breathe and calling for his mother before he passed out and died.
Outrage over the incident has led to an international protest against the way police treat black citizens. All four officers were fired and charged after Floyd’s death.
Lane, Thou and Kueng had pleaded not guilty to the state charges and rejected a plea deal with prosecutors last month, the attorney general’s office said. Thao and Kueng are still expected to stand trial by the state next month.
Chauvin was found guilty in state court last year of murdering Floyd and sentenced to more than 22 years in prison. As part of a plea deal, Chauvin pleaded guilty in December to federal civil rights charges related to the death of Floyd and the restraint of a teenager in a separate incident.
At the federal trial, Lane said he was on his fourth day on the job, while Chauvin had worked for the department for more than 18 years. Lane twice asked Chauvin to reposition Floyd during the restraint, but was refused both times, according to his testimony and body camera footage.
The first time, Lane asked Chauvin if they should lift Floyd’s legs, like they are taught at the academy. “No, we’re fine,” Chauvin said, according to Lane’s testimony.
Lane then said he asked Chauvin if they should roll Floyd to his side. “No, we’re good like that,” Chauvin replied, according to Lane’s testimony.
At Chauvin’s state trial, a series of medical experts testified that Floyd died of “positional asphyxia,” or the inability to breathe sufficiently due to being in a prone position and the pressure on his back.
An ambulance eventually arrived and first responders lifted Floyd, who was limp at the time, into the vehicle. Lane joined them in the ambulance and performed CPR on Floyd.
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